Discrimination / Sexual Harrassment

As a Northern Star employee, you are subject to NIU’s Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy. Northern Star managers and advisers
are responsible for making sure all employees are trained about this policy. Remember, you could be held personally liable if you fail to carry out your responsibility to prevent or stop discrimination/harassment and/or retaliation, or if you fail to handle complaints in a serious, expedient and responsible manner.

What does NIU’s anti-discrimination policy say?

It prohibits employment/academic decisions based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or any other factor unrelated to professional qualifications.

Discrimination also can occur with issues like body piercings, tattoos or wardrobe. To avoid individual problems, managers should clearly lay out rules for appropriate attire which apply to everyone.

Hypothetical examples:
No T-shirts with offensive images or language.
No swim suits

The NIU policy prohibits conduct that discriminates against any employee or student with respect to any aspect of employment. That includes:

  • Pay, assignment or classification
  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Hiring and firing
  • Transfer, promotion or layoff

Job descriptions

Accurate, up-to-date job descriptions for every position can save you from a discrimination complaint. Job descriptions must list essential duties. The description should be included in advertisements and a copy should be given to everyone who interviews for any position.

What is sexual harassment?

The term “sexual harassment” covers much more than just a person making unwanted sexual advances toward another. Jokes, pictures, coarse talk … anything of a sexual nature that can create or contribute to an uncomfortable, intimidating or unprofessional atmosphere should be considered off-limits at the Northern Star at all times.


 Physical  Visual  Verbal
 Assault  Cartoons Proposition for sexual activity
 Touching  Written documents Jokes, remarks, questions
 Hugging  Suggestive calendars Pressure for dates
 Kissing  Computer images Coarse language that is gender specific or sexual in nature
 Pinching  Computer games  Inappropriate comments about a person’s body
 Patting  Posters  Music with explicit lyrics
 Gesturing  TV shows
 Posturing  e-mails
 Grabbing  Magazines

What responsibilities do supervisors have?

  • Promptly address all allegations of discrimination or harassment.
  • Take immediate and reasonable steps to stop prohibited conduct.
  • Evaluate and discipline your employees consistently.
  • Provide training to your staff about avoiding discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Read and understand the NIU policy.
  • Be role models for the rest of the staff in observing these and other policies.

What responsibilities do all employees have?

  • Obey the policy as a Star employee  not just in the office but anywhere you are representing the Northern Star.
  • Obey the policy as an NIU student. All students are subject to this while anywhere on campus.
  • Point out problem behavior by others.

Other considerations

1. Viewing or downloading pornography anywhere in the office is strictly prohibited and will subject the employee to immediate termination. The Campus Life Building is owned by the State of Illinois. So is all Northern Star equipment. Using the Star’s equipment to access pornography could get the Star into legal trouble and/or evicted from our office space. It’s also a potential sexual harassment complaint from someone else who sees what you’re viewing.

2. Sexual language and conversations, said jokingly or otherwise, will not be tolerated in the office at any time of the day or night. These conversations can be highly offensive to the people around you … even if they’re hesitant to say so. And, in a semi-public setting like a newspaper office, you never know who might hear you. The Star is a place of business, with customers and news sources in the office or on the phone much of the time. Harassment complaints can come not only from co-workers, but also from the public.

3. A semi-related topic: Any sexually oriented content in the newspaper, Web site or radio station — ads, photos, news text, conversation or otherwise — is subject to obscenity laws and the Northern Star’s decency standards (see separate section). Before publication, the material always should be discussed by editors and managers — even the Management Board if necessary.

In short

The Northern Star wants to protect its employees and provide a friendly, comfortable work atmosphere. If you are not sure about whether what you are doing or saying is appropriate, it probably isn’t.

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